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Displaying 151-160 of 25838 results.
ID: 2041
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: The Real Thing
Source:
Body: <p>Apropos of my earlier remarks (<a href="http://hnn.us/articles/913.html#052603">"Vacation Bible School"</a> below) on what a genuinely Christian politics might look like, it's nice to see that the Republican governor of Alabama has come to agree that it does not look much like the policies of George W. Bush. Gov. Bob Riley, a former member of Tom DeLay's House Republican legion who is evidently trying to make up for that experience as governor, <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2003/07/29/alabama_taxes/index.html">has proposed a tax increase</a> that defies national trends and typical Republican preferences by not only by raising new revenues but also by making the Alabama tax code more progressive rather than less: &quot;'According to our Christian ethics, we're supposed to love God, love each other and help take care of the poor,' he said. 'It is immoral to charge somebody making $5,000 an income tax.' &quot; Riley wants to set the minimum income that would incur taxes at $17,000 while increasing taxes on businesses and the wealthy. The new money would be used to close budget gaps and improve the state's woeful educational system. </p><p>Most southern tax systems are highly regressive, relying heavily on sales taxes and fees that are most burdensome for the poor and lower middle class. This is perfectly consistent with the white South's long apparent preference for oligarchy, a social and and political system that naturally places the heaviest burdens on those with the least power and status. Under conservative rule, the rest of the nation (including the federal government) has been moving toward the regressive southern system, sometimes openly and sometimes covertly, as in the case of the widespread double-digit tuition increases at state universities. </p><p>Short-sighted business lobbyists and other neo-monarchists love this trend, especially when it seems to be so easy to convince many of the voters harmed by such policies to regard them as a great boon. Naturally, many of the governor's Republican supporters now &quot;see Riley as a Judas&quot; and have turned on him viciously for developing a sudden case of political honesty and courage. The outraged interest groups include the state's self-styled Christian Coalition, who sling some mendacious Shrubbian rhetoric about <i>all </i>families deserving &quot;tax relief,&quot; even those who actually don't deserve it in the sense of needing it or having done anything to earn it, that did not come from any bible I know about besides Karl Rove's campaign bible.&nbsp; <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/913.html#072903">link</a><p>
ID: 2042
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: The Blog is Back
Source:
Body: <p>We're finally done with most of our major summer travels, and having received lots of praise from colleagues at the SHEAR (Society for Historians of the Early American Republic) last week for this poor languishing blog, it seems time to get it back up and running again. There are so many things that need blogging about, I don't know where to start. </p><p>Let me begin by recommending an <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0307.thompson.html">article in the <i>Washington Monthly</i> on the Bush administration's hostility to science</a>. It has many specifics on something I have <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/953.html#denial"> commented on before</a>, the conservative aversion to engaging with many of the facts of modern life (and not only where &quot;the facts of life&quot; are concerned). Actually, it's less of an aversion these days than a commitment to the aggressive contradiction of scientific, economic, and sociological facts that threaten the beliefs and interests of the Christian and corporate right or might in any way be construed as casting doubt on the lifestyles and values of McMansion-dwelling, SUV-driving, Shrub-loving white suburban voters. Driven by basically political imperatives, these policies of denial and contradiction are buttressed by the simulated research of a growing conservative counter-intelligentsia eager to provide know-nothing conservative politicians with excuses for acting as though evolution, global warming, pollution, racism, etc., were all merely unproven theories on which &quot;the jury is still out,&quot; if not actual &quot;liberal claptrap.&quot; Conservatives like to pretend that they are actually pondering these questions seriously, but squirming underneath it all is good old-fashioned reactionary anti-intellectualism. The article reports Karl Rove's answer when asked to define a Democrat: &quot;Bush's chief political strategist replied, 'Somebody with a doctorate.' &quot; </p><p>The <i>Washington Monthly </i>article focuses on hard science issues, especially in biology, but the pattern it describes of favoring information and experts politically cooked to order, even or perhaps especially in cases where the favored view contradicts the vast majority of other research on a subject, clearly applies in just about every area, from economics to constitutional law to foreign policy. As the <i>Washington Monthly</i> points out, <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/news/944601.asp?0cv=CA00">Condoleeza Rice</a> is one the relatively few Ph.D.s in the current White House, but it's clear that she was in the habit, along with much of the rest of the administration, of giving weight to only the most alarmist evidence regarding the alleged Iraqi threat, even evidence that was widely regarded as baseless or purely speculative. It's all so sad. It's one thing for conservatives to sell tax cuts with cooked economic information, and quite inexcusably different to take the same cynical approach to war. <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/913.html#072803">link</a></p>
ID: 2043
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Pasley's Familiar Excuses
Source:
Body: <p>I have been avoiding the blogosphere for a while, trying to catch up on many previously-mentioned overdue commitments, which now include the assembly of a massively complex &quot;play structure&quot; -- please don't call it a swing set -- my wife got a closeout price on. The boys are being as patient as can be expected about it, which is not so much. In the meantime, they (or Isaac, the older one, anyway), are looking forward to the grand patriotic Midwestern tradition of blowing a lot of stuff up this Friday. Missourians are great believers in our constitutional freedoms, including the right to drink beer in the car and an equally relaxed approach to fireworks. Auditorally speaking, the closest thing in America to downtown Baghdad during a Bus presidency is a small town in Missouri on the 4th of July.</p><p><b>Pasley's Familiar Quotations</b> 06/05/03 way too early</p><p>Sorry for the sporadic nature of my blogging here of late. Having finally gotten the recent semester and the SHEAR program out of the way, I have been working through my very large stack of mostly overdue book reviews and other minor pieces. In a putting together several encyclopedia articles over the last few days,&nbsp;for an interesting project called <i>The Encyclopedia of American Conspiracy Theories, </i>I ran across a couple of familiar quotations that seemed to speak to modern times: </p><blockquote><p>&quot;Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress.&quot; -- <a href="http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/veto/ajveto01.htm">Andrew Jackson, &quot;Bank Veto Message&quot;</a></p></blockquote><p>Say what you want about Jackson, his sanity (or lack of same), his sincerity (or lack of same), his brutality toward the Indians -- most of it would be true. Yet I also think that no truer sentence than the above has ever been written about American legislative politics than that, especially if you mentally add &quot;or the state legislature.&quot; The desire of rich men (and now women) to make politicians help them get richer is just one of the overwhelming facts of life in every capital in this land, generating immense pressures (through the medium of the lobbyists, lobby law firms, and associations that line the streets of places like Tallahassee and Jefferson City) that require incredible vigilance and willpower to resist.</p><p>Jackson was applying one of what I consider one of the truisms of all socio-political history: that those with wealth and power always want more of both, will use one to get the other, and always implicitly aim for a state of things in which they own or control everything and in which all the wealth comes to them and nothing goes out except what they voluntarily give up. (I speak economically -- this is what aim for an abstract sense, not what they actually achieve.) Somewhere back in collective memory of our modern aristocrats is a lovely dream of the way the old aristocrats had it: they owned the land, the peasants did the work, and it was the <i>peasants</i> who had to pay the taxes, just because that's the way it was, no need for pet economists to gin up trickle down or supply-side theories. Suweeeeet! </p><p>(I don't see the foregoing as Marxist or a conspiracy theory. Really it's sort of a natural principle that's unlikely to change and not worth crying too much over, AS LONG AS THEY ARE OPPOSING FORCES TO KEEP THINGS IN BALANCE. This last thing is what we seem to lack today.)</p><p>Jackson's words hearken back to a time -- which lasted long after Jackson -- when it was conceivable for an American leader to say some so straightforwardly true if unpleasant about the way the world works, and not be drowned out or howled down. Not only that, it hearkens back to one of the periods when the American people themselves seemed to understand it was no safer to let the rich or business have absolute, unaccountable power than it is to do the same for politicians.-- that nothing was going to trickle down for them unless they cut some holes in the ceiling. (Wow, if that had only rhymed I would have sounded like Jesse Jackson.)</p><p>This brings me to the other familiar quotation:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.&quot; -- <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2928t.html">William Lloyd Garrison</a></p></blockquote><p>The Garrison line follows a more familiar passage that I wish more of our Democratic politicians and pundits would take to heart next time they are pondering whether they dare say &quot;boo&quot; out there in the Bushes:</p><blockquote><p>I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I <i>will</i> be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; -- but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- <span class="title">AND I WILL BE HEARD</span>.</p></blockquote>
ID: 2044
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Vacation Bible School
Source:
Body: <p>No particular news peg on this one, but the second reading in church yesterday morning was one of passages I am always trying to think of when expatiating on one of my more frequent themes, the fact that today's so-called Christian Right is neither truly Christian nor generally right in its political choices. Yes, talk-radio listeners, many liberals do attend church, and do not even get burnt by the crosses. Many liberals even find a lot of support in the actual teachings of Christianity for cherished liberal values (often lampooned in the conservative media) such as peace, mercy, altruism and tolerance.&nbsp;</p><p>Anyway, remember the following, from <a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?passage=1+John+4&amp;NIV_version=yes&amp;NASB_version=yes&amp;KJV_version=yes&amp;ASV_version=yes&amp;NIV-UK_version=yes&amp;language=english&amp;x=14&amp;y=5">1 John 4</a>, the next time a communiqué from John Ashcroft or or Jerry Falwell or the Southern Baptist Convention or some front group with &quot;Family&quot; in the title hits the media, urging faithful Americans to hate or fear or punish some person or group with beliefs or a lifestyle that they don't like. Certainly think about this passage when Shrub next intimates that God is guiding his ongoing national agenda of deceit, cupidity, bluster and (mostly) misdirected violence. I have bolded some of the better parts: </p><blockquote><p><sup>7</sup>Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. <sup>8</sup>Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. <sup>9</sup>This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son<sup>[</sup><a HREF="#footnote_182944417_2"><sup>2</sup></a><sup>]</sup> into the world that we might live through him. <sup>10</sup>This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for<sup>[</sup><a HREF="#footnote_182944417_3"><sup>3</sup></a><sup>]</sup> our sins. <b><sup>11</sup>Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. <sup>12</sup>No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.</b><br><sup>13</sup>We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. <sup>14</sup>And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. <sup>15</sup>If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. <sup>16</sup>And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.<br> God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. <sup>17</sup>In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.<sup> 18</sup>There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.<br><sup>19</sup>We love because he first loved us. <b><sup>20</sup>If anyone says, &quot;I love God,&quot; yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.</b><sup>21</sup>And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/913.html#052603">link</a></p></blockquote><p>
ID: 2045
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Homilist for Hire
Source:
Body: <p>David McCullough's run of fawning press coverage appears to be over. The Voice of America's latest prestigious honor is the NEH Jefferson Lecture, an ironic or perhaps just inappropriate selection considering the way McCullough used Jefferson in <i>John Adams</i> (as a foil to make the Duke of Braintree look better). While others have used the lecture to make grand, original statements appropriate to the occasion, McCullough seems to have treated the occasion as another homily-for-hire paycheck. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62615-2003May16.html">The <i>Washington Post</i>'s Philip Kennicott</a> more or less trashes his performance on the front page of the today's Style section, emphasizing the recycled nature of the material:</p><blockquote><p>Much of what he said has been said before, and by McCullough himself. He quoted a charming line from John Adams to his son John Quincy Adams: &quot;You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.&quot; It got a chuckle, though readers of the Adams biography will remember it from Page 260.</p><p>Good stuff, and of course historians repeat themselves, but none of it was enlivened by substantial rethinking of the meaning, context or importance. What ideas there were were mostly paraphrased from McCullough's earlier work. Early in the speech he noted that history is not really about the past because, &quot;if you think about it, no one ever lived in the past.&quot; Our past was their present. True enough, and you can read it all from an earlier interview, with Bruce Cole, posted on the endowment's Web site.</p></blockquote><p>Of course, McCullough's biggest applause line was a swipe at us nasty academic historians for being such friggin' brainiacs and writing books that journalists and popular authors don't get: &quot;He harped on a familiar theme, the necessity of history being entertaining and pleasurable, and he delivered one line that got particular applause: 'No harm's done to history by making it something someone would want to read.'&quot; ( It's so true, if I had a dollar for every time I said to myself, &quot;Uh oh, self, someone might want to read that paragraph -- better cut it.&quot; That's just the way we academical types are.)&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;Kennicott's goes on to make some surprisingly on-point remarks criticizing the McCullough style and explaining the origins of its current high regard:</p><blockquote><p>There is a considerable effort, in this country, to make history merely a stable of stories domesticated for the entertainment of the comfortable classes. McCullough's speech last night met that unfortunate standard. But McCullough is a serious historian, and a best-selling historian who has managed to negotiate the pressures of publishing without the plagiarism scandals that have disgraced his peers in the pop-history biz. And he is also deeply and sincerely concerned that history isn't getting out there enough, that it isn't reaching young people.</p><p>If he wants to know why it isn't, he should read his own speech. Here, in distilled form, is the kind of history that turns off people who don't belong to the establishment, history that presumes we're all charmed by the same stories of flawed but decent White Men founding an imperfect but noble union. It is lively, yes, and richly anecdotal, but it is also clubby, complacent and platitudinous.</p></blockquote><p>As Kennicott implies, this kind of thing is particularly culpable in our present historical circumstances, when it would be nice to hear respected Founding Father profiteers like McCullough occasionally checking their &quot;What Would John Adams Do? bracelets&quot; (as Kennicott puts it) and comment on current events. Adams might have taken some of the same shots at civil liberties, but the relentless politicization, habitual deception, financial irresponsibility and foreign aggressiveness of the present administration were exactly what Adams did not stand for. Adams withstood conservative pressures for a cathartic foreign war (against France no less), and it would not kill McCullough to actually work some content into his inspirational talks. Pretty sad to think that the Dixie Chicks are more capable of honest public commentary than the Jefferson Lecturer. </p>
ID: 2046
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Riyadh and the Convenient Myths of U.S. Counter-Terrorist Strategy
Source:
Body: <p>And so it begins. The Riyadh bombings make it pretty clear that our battlefield successes and macho posturing have failed to stop either terrorism in general or al Qaeda in particular.</p><p>Many of us have been saying for months that the Bush administration's means have not suited the stated end of preventing future 9/11s. Even if one refuses to acknowledge that U.S. behavior might play some role in creating the conditions that spawn terrorism, it's far from obvious that the appropriate response is the serial invasion and occupation of Muslim countries and &quot;rogue states.&quot; There has been much rhetoric about the war on terrorism &quot;changing everything,&quot; requiring a new kind of warfare, etc., but it's instructive that our response has amounted to using the same old kind of warfare, only with better technology and fewer diplomatic constraints. Saddam was a side issue at best, an itch that the neocons and their boy George could not wait to scratch.</p><p>Conservative or maybe just American &quot;thinking&quot; on terrorism labors hard to conclude that our existing military establishment, perhaps with some Rumsfeldian reforms, is just what we need to deal with terrorism. It is a case of shaping our analysis of a threat to fit the means of fighting that we happen to have on hand, and happen to enjoy major political and economic constituencies. Despite the fact that it is the the multinational, stateless nature of terrorism that makes it a new kind of enemy, official counterterrorist thought places great emphasis on the role of national states in &quot;sponsoring&quot; terrorism, opening the door for the conclusion that conventional state-on-state military action is, as luck would have it, the exactly appropriate response to unconventional warfare.</p><p>As convenient as this conclusion has been for the Shrubbers and the Pentagon and lovers of the Big Stick everywhere, it is almost certainly wrong. State &quot;sponsorship&quot; often seems to amount to tolerating the presence of terrorist groups in a country, often by not looking as hard as they might, as opposed to actively funding, equipping, and directing them. (Iraq's &quot;sponsorship&quot; of Al Qaeda seems to have amounted to much much much less.) The sponsorship idea seems to derive from U.S. and Soviet activities in the Cold War, in which proxy freedom fighters set up by superpower intelligence agencies were common. Even back in those days the extent of outside control was often a myth, as in the case of the Afghan freedom fighters who grew up to be the Taliban and the Osamists. </p><p>Even if state sponsorship really is a significant factor, it is certainly not &quot;necessary&quot; for terrorism to exist. Terrorism is par excellence a weapon of the weak and the outlawed and the dispersed, of those who lack access to the power of a state or face an overwhelmingly superior force. This is not to justify terrorism at all, or to deny that blind ideological hatred animates it. The thing is, blind ideological hatred can be expressed in lots of ways. States are more likely to do it by, say, oppressing ethnic minorities rather than paying people to randomly blow up civilians in other countries.</p><p>It may be asked, as it was asked in the run-up to Iraq War II, what alternative we have to smacking around the bad guys we can see? I'm not sure in detail, but here's a start: The Taliban probably did need to be dealt with, but after that was over, we should have put a much more concerted effort into an international reconstruction of Afghanistan. Capitalizing on world outrage at 9/11, we should have concentrated our counterterrorism efforts on a much quieter policy of working with Arab and Muslim governments to root out terrorist organizations within their borders and to undertake serious democratic reforms.</p>
ID: 2047
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Recommended Reading
Source:
Body: <p>Travel and my end-of-semester workload has prevented extensive blogging lately, but I wanted to point out a couple of recent articles that make some of the same points I have been making about the antidemocratic turn the country has taken since 2000, and the many lines that have been crossed by the current administration. </p><p>Paul Krugman's &quot;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/06/opinion/06KRUG.html?th">Man on Horseback</a>&quot; notes that Shrub's aircraft carrier stunt breaks a a taboo, in place for centuries, against U.S. presidents appearing in military regalia. With their typical lack of respect or understanding for the political dimensions of the (small &quot;l&quot;) liberal constitutional tradition, modern &quot;conservatives&quot; seem to think the president's Commander-in-Chief title demands the country's chief civilian magistrate be a military chieftain, rather than the country's chief military leader being a civilian politician, as the Constitution obviously intends. For all their chest-thumping about the superiority of American institutions and values, it does not seem to bother conservatives to have their president assaying a role, the president as soldier, more typically associated with dictatorships (like Saddam Hussein's) and monarchies than democracies. What was doubly sad, Krugman points out, was that the media and the erstwhile political opposition went along with this stunt, quietly in some cases, pantingly in others.</p><p>I also recommend &quot;<a href="http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030519&amp;s=wolin">Inverted Totalitarianism</a>&quot; by Sheldon Wolin, a Princeton political theorist&nbsp; whose book <i>Politics and Vision</i> I remember enjoying in college (though very little else about it). In a more sophisticated and eloquent way than I have, Wolin argues that a fundamental change in the U.S. form of government may be taking place under our noses. Here are the opening paragraphs:</p><blockquote><p><i>The war on Iraq has so monopolized public attention as to obscure the regime change taking place in the Homeland. We may have invaded Iraq to bring in democracy and bring down a totalitarian regime, but in the process our own system may be moving closer to the latter and further weakening the former. The change has been intimated by the sudden popularity of two political terms rarely applied earlier to the American political system. &quot;Empire&quot; and &quot;superpower&quot; both suggest that a new system of power, concentrated and expansive, has come into existence and supplanted the old terms. &quot;Empire&quot; and &quot;superpower&quot; accurately symbolize the projection of American power abroad, but for that reason they obscure the internal consequences. Consider how odd it would sound if we were to refer to &quot;the Constitution of the American Empire&quot; or &quot;superpower democracy.&quot; The reason they ring false is that &quot;constitution&quot; signifies limitations on power, while &quot;democracy&quot; commonly refers to the active involvement of citizens with their government and the responsiveness of government to its citizens. For their part, &quot;empire&quot; and &quot;superpower&quot; stand for the surpassing of limits and the dwarfing of the citizenry.</i></p><p><i>The increasing power of the state and the declining power of institutions intended to control it has been in the making for some time. The party system is a notorious example. The Republicans have emerged as a unique phenomenon in American history of a fervently doctrinal party, zealous, ruthless, antidemocratic and boasting a near majority. As Republicans have become more ideologically intolerant, the Democrats have shrugged off the liberal label and their critical reform-minded constituencies to embrace centrism and footnote the end of ideology. In ceasing to be a genuine opposition party the Democrats have smoothed the road to power of a party more than eager to use it to promote empire abroad and corporate power at home. Bear in mind that a ruthless, ideologically driven party with a mass base was a crucial element in all of the twentieth-century regimes seeking total power.</i></p><p><i>Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media's reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment. What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.</i></p></blockquote><p> The point about the"discrediting of constitutional limitations" seems particularly apt. This campaign has been going on in our popular and political culture for decades, but it wasn't until Shrub and Rumsfeld and Rove and Ashcroft that we got a set of leaders ambitious, heedless, and ignorant-or-cynical enough to take full advantage of just how weak the country's understanding of and commitment to its political traditions has become.<p>
ID: 2048
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: The Solo Arms Race
Source:
Body: <p>I was struck, or perhaps should say &quot;smart-bombed,&quot; by <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/27/weekinreview/27EAST.html?pagewanted=all&amp;position=">Gregg Easterbrook's &quot;Week in Review&quot; piece</a> on the total, overwhelming, and apparently permanent military superiority the U.S. now enjoys.&nbsp; Nobody else is even trying to catch up, and when they do have to face us, they tend not to risk their most expensive stuff, like their air forces. (Iraq and Serbia did not let their planes take off in the recent wars.)</p><p>Most of the world's nations are stuck with Cold War era equipment and even those with more modern militaries (like Britain and France) have only a fraction of what we've got.&nbsp; U.S. dominance in sea and air power is almost comic in its dimensions. We have 10 supercarrier groups to everyone else's none. We three different stealth planes to everyone else's none, plus two more in development. It seems that no other country has kept up the massive program of weapons development and procurement we have maintained despite the disappearance of the enemy, the Soviet Union, that we were arms racing with all those years. &quot;Last year American military spending exceeded that of all other NATO states, Russia, China, Japan, Iraq and North Korea combined, according to the Center for Defense Information, a nonpartisan research group that studies global security.&quot;</p><p>Easterbrook points out that this lopsided balance of power may have consequences we will not like. Nations who feel threatened may scramble for a few nasty nuclear or biological weapons just to keep us at bay, as we are in North Korea and may be for a long time, unless we are prepared to liberate many more civilians till they don't get back up, North Korea being a much more densely populated country. Thus the one-time pride of U.S. weapons research drive has become a low-cost alternative to building a military machine, kind of an arms race by a Wal-Mart.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>My question is, what exactly is our outsized military for at this point, when a half or a third of what we have would obviously be just as overwhelming? Why are we still developing more weapons? Who do we plan to fight with our 9000 Abrams tanks that usually take one shot to destroy an enemy vehicle?&nbsp; Does the Pentagon know something we don't, perhaps a coming attack by the mole people? Do other countries know something that we don't, perhaps that post Cold War conditions almost demand that civilized nations stop diverting so much of their wealth to procuring the means of killing people and breaking things?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It's all enough to make one mutter, in spite of one's level-headed, conspiracy-debunking self about the influence of the Military-Industrial Complex and the &quot;merchants of death.&nbsp; Certainly seeing that <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42795-2003Apr26.html"> D.C. area defense concerns are having a boffo year while other industries languish</a> does not help. It's also quite true that it is Republican constituencies which both support aggressive use of military action and benefit from increased defense spending.&nbsp;</p>
ID: 2049
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Secretary Jack D. Ripper
Source:
Body: <p>Just in case there was any doubt about Donald &quot;Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of&quot; Rumsfeld's maniacal, Strangelovian tendencies, check this out: He and Wolfowitz <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/news/8B61E0045915965186256D12000EE70B?OpenDocument&amp;highlight=2%2Cbunker&amp;headline=Rumsfeld+is+said+to+be+pushing+for+nuclear+bunker+buster">want a <i>nuclear</i> bunker buster</a>, thousands of times more powerful than the ones they were just using to wipe out Baghdad homes and restaurants and Afghan mountaintops. Seems that part of their &quot;transformation&quot; of the military will be to get some nukes they can actually use on the battlefield, if you don't mind rendering whole neighborhoods uninhabitable and groundwater undrinkable, to say nothing of poisoning a few of our own soldiers. (Rummy and Wolfy don't mind. They're not going.) But you know, it's only patriotic to try to close the mineshaft gap.</p>
ID: 2050
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Gut Check 2004
Source:
Body: <p>I must admit to finding <i><a href="http://www.prospect.org/">The American Prospect</a></i>, the political magazine I most often in agree with these days, just a little dull, in keeping with its Cantabridgian, Dukakisite origins. However, Harold Meyerson's recent cover story over there, &quot;The Most Dangerous President Ever,&quot; says just about everything that needs to be said. </p><p>2004 is going to be a real gut check for American democracy. The forces of corporate oligarchy on are the march, and in the fear and disorientation produced by the terrorist attacks and the wars that followed, our would-be masters have been handed the most potent political weapon they ever could have imagined. The Republicans will work to ensure that the easiest way to feel safe and optimistic will be accepting the Bush administration's open lies: that war against any old Arab regime dislike will protect us from stateless terrorists, that new global commitments can be taken on and &quot;no child left behind&quot; while every government in the country is intentionally thrown into fiscal crisis, that a massive tax cut guaranteed to destroy many jobs is actually a &quot;jobs and growth&quot; package, etc. They are openly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/23/opinion/23DOWD.html">planning to turn 9/11/04 into a campaign kick-off event</a>. </p><p>Most Americans don't actually support the Bush administration on any particular domestic issue, and in my view even the Iraq War was embraced more out of duty more than genuine enthusiasm. Yet really seeing to the bottom of this administration's enormities is far more upsetting than most people will tolerate. (The modern conservative movement is almost <i>based on</i> the psychological insight that angry rejection of upsetting truths is easier for most people than accepting some idea that might call an aspect of their lives or beliefs into question.) </p><p>Yet if a few more American voters don't start allowing themselves to get a little more upset and angry at someone besides the mythical liberals that run the country in the talk radio universe, the early years of the 21st-century are going to be remembered as the worst sort of turning point. Four more years of Shrub, and the New Deal social compact will have been beaten nearly to death and most of the public institutions built over the last century will have been shut down, fatally weakened, or (as in higher education) effectively made private and exclusive from replacing public funding with user fees (like tuition) and private donations. </p>